By Rowan Chetty and Mary Wolters, Staff Reporters Seventeen years ago, math teacher Vincent Russo founded Conestoga’s Math Competition Team for students passionate about exploring the world of mathematics through competitions. Now, the MCT is on track to take first place in the Pennsylvania Math League. The Pennsylvania Math League is a six-question test taken...
By Rowan Chetty and Mary Wolters, Staff Reporters
Seventeen years ago, math teacher Vincent Russo founded Conestoga’s Math Competition Team for students passionate about exploring the world of mathematics through competitions. Now, the MCT is on track to take first place in the Pennsylvania Math League.
The Pennsylvania Math League is a six-question test taken every month, from October to March. The five students with the highest scores are counted for the team’s total score. This year, ’Stoga has held the first place position since the first PAML test in October. The varsity captain, junior Rhea Malik, has been on the team since she was a fresh- man. Along with receiving high PAML scores this year, Malik also coaches other members on concepts commonly seen on math competition tests.
“Leading the lessons helps solidify the knowledge (of math concepts) for myself,” Malik said. “When I’m teaching (les- sons) to people, I have to know what I’m doing.”
A major goal of the MCT is to be a place where students who love math can develop a variety of problem solving skills and to provide an opportunity for them to perform in mathematical competitions.
“In high school a lot of people have less time, so they slow down (their participation in math competitions) even though they love doing math,” Malik said. “With the club, we hope to keep (that) interest going.”
One of the MCT’s newer members is freshman Jeffrey Wang. Before joining the MCT, Wang competed in Mathcounts during middle school. This year, Wang and a group of his fellow freshmen joined the MCT, where they engage in friendly competitions over their PAML scores.
“When I see my friends doing (math competitions) I feel inspired to repeat after them and (to) do the same as them,” Wang said.
The MCT has a history of placing either first or second every year from 2014 to 2021. The team attributes their success to perseverance.
“We have really smart people on the team, and we also put in a lot of practice,” Malik said. “Practice makes perfect.”
However, ‘Stoga’s long history of success is not without difficulties. The team faced many challenges during the pandemic.
Last year, Conestoga placed seventh in the state PAML. Senior Evelyn Yu, a four-year MCT member, felt less motivated to participate due to the virtual format feeling less exciting than in-person math competitions.
“One of the things that the math competition team does is have actual matches with other schools, but we couldn’t do that with COVID,” Yu said. “A lot of our competitions (were) changed from being on paper to online. Just the experience was different, (so) less people wanted to (compete).”
Closing out the season, the team hopes to hold their place in first for the final PAML test in March and to continue to expand their membership. They plan to achieve this by participating in more matches against other schools, where members can obtain more experience. Although many might attribute ’Stoga’s success to their strong mathematicians, Yu credits their success to hard work and experience.
“People who do (well) on math competition tests are people who have done math competition tests before,” Yu said. “Not even people who are good at math. You just have to be willing to try.”
Rowan Chetty can be reached at [email protected].
Mary Wolters can be reached at [email protected].
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